A topography sculpted of folded, skewed metal planes, the Vail Grant House seems to enter into a love affair with its hillside site, blurring the boundaries between the natural and the artificial. Although the building appears to be a direct response to the topography, much of its shape actually derives from a translation of the complex setback and stepback requirements of the hillside ordinances as they relate to this site. The zoning codes require a lower building height towards the street and permit a taller structure further up the hill. By that means, it was possible to build relatively close to the street and establish a relationship to the smaller scale in the surroundings, while being able to increase the height further back in the lot—thus taking advantage of the spectacular views. The building volume is created by a simple extrusion of a square, a neutral elongated twisted box that is projected into the site and sculpted along its contours. The folded roof is skewed where to allow directed views or openings. The building’s movement on the site describes a spiral that begins at a lower point closest to the street, travels up the hill, and then turns back towards the street and the lake, overlooking itself and creating an enclosed court in the center.
Structural Concrete Insulated Panels (SCIP) made by Green Sandwich Technologies were chosen for their structural and insulating properties, as well as sustainability: they are made from 100% recycled and post consumer foam and have a 50% fly-ash content in the concrete. The design employs comprehensive passive solar design strategies, as well as solar panels and geothermal cooling: improving thermal comfort, daylighting, and natural ventilation. By responding to the visceral aspects of the site, both physical and regulatory, an uniquely sustainable and striking design was achieved.
Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh + Scarpa) (architect)
Luis Vasquez (engineer)
AIA Los Angeles NextLA Award, 2004
Exhibited at the National Building Museum’s “Liquid Stone Exhibit,” Washington, DC, 2004